How British American Tobacco have been using social media (#smwldn live blog)

Next up, David Richard Hare from BAT. 

15.54: BAT had ‘ten years of failure’ with online communities. It was difficult to get people to engage with the tools. 

We tried five platforms over ten years. There were too many barriers to communication: people forgot their passwords, changed jobs etc.

In 2005 we tried a workshop called ChangeNet. We realised our approach was wrong again: we were concentrating on the technology too much. At the workshop, people began to build relationships, they are now able to interact virtually as friends. Adding this human direction was a big step for us. It was partly because we (the online engagement team) moved from IT to HR.

CommunityBuilder was a tool that showed employees how to get people engaged with their projects. 

In 2006, we put a World Cup Forum up. Immediately became the most visited place on our intranet. It didn’t take up too much of people’s time but helped break down barriers within the organisation. There was a big spike in activity during the world cup.

In 2007, we set up a Management Trainee Community. Now one of the most active communities: people set up weekend social activities together etc.

Tom, our Change and Communications Manager (Global Operations and IT), came to us in 2004 and said he wanted to try blogging. It took about 3 attempts but in the end we developed something ourselves in Lotus Notes – gave him an area within his site where he could blog. He linked his everyday blog very well to the business world and business strategy, and others followed.

One new blogger was particularly suspicious of social media, but she’s a marketer and she realised that when you get your stories in front of people, that’s what engages them. She’s now one of our most prominent bloggers.

One colleague started blogging about how the organisation needed to open up, eg use Facebook and YouTube and had around 8,000 page views per blog post. Now BAT is considering his proposals.

BlogCentral (BAT’s internal blog network – given same name as IBM’s) monthly users started out at around 400, grew to around 2,500 by April 2010. 

16.13: I was pushing for a Facebook like internal network for years. We had an internal directory (called Connect – also ‘stolen’ from IBM). When Twitter arrived it seemed the time was right to something that combined the three (profiles/social networks with updates with real-time connections). In 2008 we built Connect: went live in July 2008. We’ve linked it to Active Directory, we’ve linked it to SAP.

Suddenly we’ve got this global directory, this huge network. You go in and see activity updates first thing in the morning. 25,000 registered users (everyone who uses the intranet has to sign up to it).

16.20: opens up for questions.

Question: the user experience people want is actually very different from what IT departments inevitably provide.

Question: what happens when people leave?

Andy (from IBM): I might retain info from corporate related groups on external networks. For example, people leave company but still show up on its facebook page. IBM has set up an alumni network as a way of engaging with formal employees.

Richard: that’s a problem with Yammer: you can’t throw people off it.

Comment: where next? Are there plans to go down the 2.0 course? 

Richard: when we released Connect, we asked people what they’d like to see. We don’t really have a high level strategy.

Question: it seems a big role for us as internal communicators is focusing on coaching management on how to communicate?

16.36: yes!

16.37 onto next speaker – see new post.

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